Lloyd's of London has launched an internet portal to give brokers and intermediaries around the world direct access to the London insurance market.

Lloyds.com will provide a clear route to the hundreds of specialist insurance products offered by Lloyd's insurers and brokers.

Ashok Gupta, the portal's chief executive, said: “For the first time, a broker almost anywhere in the world will be able to cut through the complexities of Lloyd's and ask one very simple question: Can you help me or not?

“Lloyds.com is a type of insurance internet introduction agency. We take an intermediary and match its needs with Lloyd's insurers and brokers.”

The portal offers Marketfinder, an intelligent search for products, and Market Intelligence, which provides analysis and comment on global insurance issues.

Plans to create the site were first announced in November by Lloyd's chief executive Nick Prettejohn. Lloyd's has also admitted the first overseas brokers this week.

The French group Eyssautier, Luxembourg's Sail and the Singapore and Paris branches of Benfield Greig have been granted direct access to the market, under new rules announced last year. They can begin operating there with immediate effect.

“Each of these new brokers is well known and respected in their class of business,” said Julian James, director of Worldwide Markets at Lloyd's. “By entering Lloyd's they can provide their customers with greater choice and flexibility.”

The new broker process follows feedback from a discussion document in October 1999. More than 200 overseas brokers have enquired about joining since Lloyd's opened up its application procedures. Lloyd's now has 134 brokers.